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Xavi Simons and the PSG youngsters you should be excited about

Publish on 21/05/2022 at 11:09

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In Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappé and Neymar Jr., Paris Saint-Germain boast some biggest stars in world football, but there is a generation behind them who could light up the Parc des Princes next season.

PSG boast a formidable youth academy but in recent seasons some of their graduates have had to make their names elsewhere - think Kingsley Coman or Christopher Nkunku. But the capital club have blooded the following players, with more to come.

 

Ligue1.com picks out five of the best, and a couple of ground rules: the player has to be eligible for under-21 football and not yet a first-team regular, which excludes Portugal left-back Nuno Mendes...

 

1) Xavi Simons

Country: Netherlands (under-19s)

Age: 19

Position: Attacking midfielder

 

The son of Dutch former striker Regillio Simons, Xavi is named after Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez and spent nine years at the fabled academy at La Masia before leaving for PSG in 2019, although he plays further up the pitch than the Barca and Spain great did.

 

Simons has dipped his toe in PSG's first team this season, making his maiden Ligue 1 Uber Eats start in February's 1-0 win over Stade Rennais FC, with a further five appearances off the bench. Four goals and six assists in just seven UEFA Youth League games are further testament to his promise.

 

"Players such as Xavi Simons and Édouard Michut have been gaining experience," said PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino recently. "They're the ones who could really play a key role in the club's future."


2) Arnaud Kalimuendo

Country: France (under-21s)/DR Congo

Age: 20

Position: Striker

 

Unlike Simons, Arnaud Kalimuendo has been earning his stripes away from the Parc des Princes, the young striker now at the conclusion of his second season on loan with RC Lens.

 

Kalimuendo has also previously lit up the UEFA Youth League, with nine goals in 10 games between 2018 and 2020, and he has further reaffirmed that promise with 12 goals in 31 league games for les Sang et Or this term.

 

A striker who is also happy to drop deep and drift left, Kalimuendo will offer competition to Neymar and Mbappé in PSG's final third next season, with no purchase option on his current Lens loan deal.


3) Éric Ebimbe

Country: France (under-21s)/Cameroon

Age: 21

Position: Midfielder

 

Éric Ebimbe lines up slightly deeper than Simons and Kalimuendo, his favourite position on the right of midfield, where he can put his hard running to full use, defending his flank whilst also being able to make late breaks into the opposition box.

 

In the same age group as his France under-21 teammate Kalimuendo, Ebimbe has already done his time out on loan, impressing in spells with Le Havre and Dijon FCO, but he elected to try his luck in Paris this season and it has paid off.

 

Ebimbe has played 10 league games - four of them starts - and he looks set to push Gini Wijnaldum and Ander Herrera all the way for the right to partner Danilo Pereira and Marco Verratti in PSG's three-man midfield next season.

 

4) Édouard Michut

Country: France (under-19s)

Age: 19

Position: Attacking midfielder

 

Another attacking midfielder, Édouard Michut is the only player on this list who already has a top-flight goal contribution for Paris to his name, laying on the assist for Thilo Kehrer's equaliser in the 1-1 draw with Olympique Lyonnais in Round 20.

 

At 18 years, 10 months and six days, Michut is the youngest player since Mbappé to make a PSG provision, and his technique, balance and vision suggest there could be many more to come.

 

Watch: Highlights of PSG's 1-1 draw with Lyon



5) El Chadaille Bitshiabu

Country: France (under-18s)/DR Congo

Age: 17

Position: Centre-back

 

The youngest player in this selection, and also the tallest at 6'5" (1m96), El Chadaille Bitshiabu is a hulking left-footed centre-back who also boasts a phenomenal ability to pick out his attacking teammates from long range.

 

He has been included in the first-team squad 11 times this season, making his league debut from the bench in Round 33's 3-0 win at Angers SCO. He had already started in last December's Coupe de France win over Feignies Aulnoye aged 16 years, seven months and four days, overtaking Coman as the club's youngest ever debutant.

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